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No 10 refuses to deny Tory donor was asked to pay for Johnson son’s nanny – live No 10 refuses to deny Tory donor was asked to pay for Johnson son’s nanny – live
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: spokesman says ‘prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare’ after claims donor was asked to fund nannyLatest updates: spokesman says ‘prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare’ after claims donor was asked to fund nanny
Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, says No 10’s refusal to deny that a Tory donor was asked to pay for Boris Johnson’s nanny (see 1.04pm) implies there has been a cover-up. Downing Street should publish all the correspondence about attempts to get donors to fund the PM’s lifestyle, she says. She says:
Here are the main points from the Downing Street lobby briefing. With parliament in recess, it will be the only lobby briefing this week.
Downing Street refused to deny reports that a Tory donor was asked to pay for a nanny for Boris Johnson’s son. (See 1.04pm.)
The prime minister’s spokesman refused to deny a report in today’s Times (paywall) saying that the announcement of plans to reform adult social care are being delayed until after the Queen’s speech later this month. In his report, Steven Swinford says the speech is expected to mention reform plans - without giving details of what they are. Asked about the story, the spokesman just said the government was standing by its commitment to finding a long-term solution to social care.
The spokesman declined to confirm that by 17 May people would be able to use the NHS Covid app to prove their Covid status when travelling abroad. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has said the plan is to use the app for this purpose. International travel is due to open up from 17 May at the earliest. Asked if the app would be ready for this purpose on time, the spokesman said the government was working at pace to get it ready. But he also stressed that that there were “other routes to achieving the same end goal”.
The spokesman described as “speculation” a report in the Sunday Telegraph (paywall) saying the government will commission a new boat seen as a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia that will be named after the Duke of Edinburgh. The Telegraph has been campaigning for this for years, and, asked about the report, the spokesman did nothing to suggest it was not true. (“Speculation” is normally a term used by Whitehall spin doctors for a story that is true, but set to be announced later.) The spokesman said:
For those of us who covered Tony Blair’s election campaign in 1997, the Royal Yacht story brings back happy memories. John Major’s government was committed to buying a new one, thinking that this would be popular. But the line in Blair’s standard stump speech that always attracted the loudest applause was when he said that in government he would have to take hard choices, and that he was sorry to have to tell everyone that he would not be able to go ahead with spending £60m on a new Royal Yacht. Blair, ever the actor, would always pretend to be surprised when he announced this anti-monarchy spending cut. A recent reader survey in the Daily Express, which is not a paper for leftwingers or republicans, suggests public opinion has not changed much since 1997.
Johnson was speaking to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, this lunchtime, the spokesman said. In advance of the talks, the government announced new trade deals with India.
Johnson is meeting the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, in Downing Street this afternoon.
The Downing Street lobby briefing has just finished. And the prime minister’s spokesman refused to deny reports in the Sunday papers claiming that a Tory donor was asked to fund the prime minister’s nanny.The Downing Street lobby briefing has just finished. And the prime minister’s spokesman refused to deny reports in the Sunday papers claiming that a Tory donor was asked to fund the prime minister’s nanny.
Asked about the stories, the spokesman just said that political advisers had already said over the weekend that “the prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare”. The spokesman also said he had nothing more to add on this.Asked about the stories, the spokesman just said that political advisers had already said over the weekend that “the prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare”. The spokesman also said he had nothing more to add on this.
Here is an extract from the Sunday Times story (paywall) by Caroline Wheeler, Tim Shipman and Tom Calver carrying this story at the weekend.Here is an extract from the Sunday Times story (paywall) by Caroline Wheeler, Tim Shipman and Tom Calver carrying this story at the weekend.
Sky News has published new polling that suggests the SNP is on course to win an outright majority at Holyrood in the election this week.Sky News has published new polling that suggests the SNP is on course to win an outright majority at Holyrood in the election this week.
Here is the Opinium projection for what this might mean in terms of seats at Holyrood.Here is the Opinium projection for what this might mean in terms of seats at Holyrood.
In a Twitter thread starting here, Sky’s Beth Rigby says the SNP having a majority would be a nightmare for Boris Johnson.In a Twitter thread starting here, Sky’s Beth Rigby says the SNP having a majority would be a nightmare for Boris Johnson.
Here are two blogs worth reading on the Hartlepool poll.Here are two blogs worth reading on the Hartlepool poll.
James Forsyth at the Spectator says that if the Tories win, that will show the 2019 electoral realignment was not just being driven by Brexit. He says:James Forsyth at the Spectator says that if the Tories win, that will show the 2019 electoral realignment was not just being driven by Brexit. He says:
Ailbhe Rea at the New Statesman says even a narrow win in Hartlepool would not be impressive for Labour. She says:Ailbhe Rea at the New Statesman says even a narrow win in Hartlepool would not be impressive for Labour. She says:
Downing Street has just announced that it will publish a white paper on levelling up later this year. It has also confirmed that Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough and the former head of the Policy Exchange thinktank, will serve as the PM’s levelling up adviser. A new No 10/Cabinet Office unit is also being set up to pursue this agenda.Downing Street has just announced that it will publish a white paper on levelling up later this year. It has also confirmed that Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough and the former head of the Policy Exchange thinktank, will serve as the PM’s levelling up adviser. A new No 10/Cabinet Office unit is also being set up to pursue this agenda.
In its announcement No 10 said:In its announcement No 10 said:
Until now “levelling up” has been seen as little more than a slogan - Downing Street has never explained what metrics will be used to assess whether or not it is exceeding - but the appointment of O’Brien, a genuine policy expert, has been seen as evidence that Boris Johnson is now taking this seriously. This is what Torsten Bell, chief executive of the left-leaning Resolution Foundation thinktank, said about O’Neil’s appointment when it was reported yesterday.Until now “levelling up” has been seen as little more than a slogan - Downing Street has never explained what metrics will be used to assess whether or not it is exceeding - but the appointment of O’Brien, a genuine policy expert, has been seen as evidence that Boris Johnson is now taking this seriously. This is what Torsten Bell, chief executive of the left-leaning Resolution Foundation thinktank, said about O’Neil’s appointment when it was reported yesterday.
My colleague Patrick Wintour thinks the appointment may have something to do with Michael Barber, the former head of Tony Blair’s delivery unit, now acting as an adviser to Johnson.My colleague Patrick Wintour thinks the appointment may have something to do with Michael Barber, the former head of Tony Blair’s delivery unit, now acting as an adviser to Johnson.
The ONS has also published figures today on the extent of Covid infection in schools in England in March. The survey was conducted between 15 and 31 March, soon after most pupils in England returned to class, and it found 0.34% of secondary school pupils testing positive, and 0.19% of secondary school staff.The ONS has also published figures today on the extent of Covid infection in schools in England in March. The survey was conducted between 15 and 31 March, soon after most pupils in England returned to class, and it found 0.34% of secondary school pupils testing positive, and 0.19% of secondary school staff.
These figures were “significantly lower” than the equivalent figures when schools were surveyed for Covid in November and December, the ONS says.These figures were “significantly lower” than the equivalent figures when schools were surveyed for Covid in November and December, the ONS says.
Gordon Brown, the Labour former prime minister, told Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that it would cost around £30bn a year to ensure that most of the world is vaccinated against coronavirus and that this would be a “very small price to pay” for the benefits. He told the programme:Gordon Brown, the Labour former prime minister, told Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that it would cost around £30bn a year to ensure that most of the world is vaccinated against coronavirus and that this would be a “very small price to pay” for the benefits. He told the programme:
A majority of people who test positive for Covid-19 are continuing to follow the rules for self-isolating, a new survey has suggested. PA Media reports:A majority of people who test positive for Covid-19 are continuing to follow the rules for self-isolating, a new survey has suggested. PA Media reports:
The Survation poll from Hartlepool (see 9am) is not the only disappointing one for Labour this morning. As the Times’ Patrick Maguire reports, an Opinium poll suggests Andy Street is on course to win re-election as the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands quite easily, beating Labour’s Liam Byrne.The Survation poll from Hartlepool (see 9am) is not the only disappointing one for Labour this morning. As the Times’ Patrick Maguire reports, an Opinium poll suggests Andy Street is on course to win re-election as the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands quite easily, beating Labour’s Liam Byrne.
In 2017 Street was just one point ahead of his Labour rival (Siôn Simon) on the first ballot, and after second preferences were taken into account he won by less than 1%.In 2017 Street was just one point ahead of his Labour rival (Siôn Simon) on the first ballot, and after second preferences were taken into account he won by less than 1%.
Another Opinion poll suggests Ben Houchen is on course to win re-election at the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley by a huge margin. In 2017, with second preferences taken into account, Houchen’s winning margin over Labour was just 2%.Another Opinion poll suggests Ben Houchen is on course to win re-election at the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley by a huge margin. In 2017, with second preferences taken into account, Houchen’s winning margin over Labour was just 2%.
A record number of people have registered to vote in this week’s Scottish parliamentary elections, with the total electorate only 3,153 lower than the all-time record electorate signed up for the 2014 independence referendum.A record number of people have registered to vote in this week’s Scottish parliamentary elections, with the total electorate only 3,153 lower than the all-time record electorate signed up for the 2014 independence referendum.
The Electoral Commission said 4,280,785 people had registered for Thursday’s Holyrood elections, compared to 4,098,462 in the 2016 Scottish parliament election. In the 2014 referendum, 4,283,938 registered.The Electoral Commission said 4,280,785 people had registered for Thursday’s Holyrood elections, compared to 4,098,462 in the 2016 Scottish parliament election. In the 2014 referendum, 4,283,938 registered.
The very high registration figure follows widespread concerns that the turnout could be low this year, due to the oddly lacklustre campaign, fears among voters about going to polling stations because of the pandemic, and election fatigue. Polling stations will use queues and enforce social distancing.The very high registration figure follows widespread concerns that the turnout could be low this year, due to the oddly lacklustre campaign, fears among voters about going to polling stations because of the pandemic, and election fatigue. Polling stations will use queues and enforce social distancing.
A high registration figure is no guarantee of a high turnout: while more than 4 million people registered in 2016, the turnout was only 55.6%. In 2011, the year Alex Salmond and the SNP won Holyrood’s first and so far only overall majority, turnout was 50.6%; in 2007 it was 53.9%.A high registration figure is no guarantee of a high turnout: while more than 4 million people registered in 2016, the turnout was only 55.6%. In 2011, the year Alex Salmond and the SNP won Holyrood’s first and so far only overall majority, turnout was 50.6%; in 2007 it was 53.9%.
Anxiety about the safety of voting in public places helped fuel an increase in postal vote applications this year: 1,010,638 people did so this year (nearly 24% of the electorate). That was far lower than the 2 million people which surveys last year by the commission had suggested could do so, but is still a record high.Anxiety about the safety of voting in public places helped fuel an increase in postal vote applications this year: 1,010,638 people did so this year (nearly 24% of the electorate). That was far lower than the 2 million people which surveys last year by the commission had suggested could do so, but is still a record high.
The franchise for Holyrood elections is also larger than for UK elections, including 16- and 17-year-olds, EU and Commonwealth citizens and other non-UK nationals with residency. Scotland’s population has also slightly increased.The franchise for Holyrood elections is also larger than for UK elections, including 16- and 17-year-olds, EU and Commonwealth citizens and other non-UK nationals with residency. Scotland’s population has also slightly increased.
Prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months can also now vote, for the first time, after Scottish ministers finally responded to repeated rulings by the European court the UK was breaching prisoners’ human rights by refusing them the vote.Prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months can also now vote, for the first time, after Scottish ministers finally responded to repeated rulings by the European court the UK was breaching prisoners’ human rights by refusing them the vote.
These are from the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar and the FT’s Sebastian Payne on the Hartlepool poll. Payne is writing a book about Labour’s performance in “red wall” seats.These are from the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar and the FT’s Sebastian Payne on the Hartlepool poll. Payne is writing a book about Labour’s performance in “red wall” seats.
And this is from my colleague Jessica Elgot.And this is from my colleague Jessica Elgot.
Anthony Wells, head of political research at the polling company YouGov and author of the UK Polling Report blog, has posted a thread on Twitter saying there is nothing suspect about the methodology of the Survation poll from Hartlepool and that it would have to be “very wrong” for Labour to win the seat on Thursday. The thread starts here.Anthony Wells, head of political research at the polling company YouGov and author of the UK Polling Report blog, has posted a thread on Twitter saying there is nothing suspect about the methodology of the Survation poll from Hartlepool and that it would have to be “very wrong” for Labour to win the seat on Thursday. The thread starts here.
Recent data on Covid deaths and rates of infection in the UK are “very encouraging”, and though a third wave of infections was possible in late summer it was unlikely to overwhelm the NHS, the leading epidemiologist Neil Ferguson has said. My colleague Caroline Davies has the story here.Recent data on Covid deaths and rates of infection in the UK are “very encouraging”, and though a third wave of infections was possible in late summer it was unlikely to overwhelm the NHS, the leading epidemiologist Neil Ferguson has said. My colleague Caroline Davies has the story here.
Prof Jane Green, co-director of the British Election Study, has posted a thread on Twitter this morning with evidence that makes the Survation Hartlepool poll (see 9am) very plausible. It starts here.Prof Jane Green, co-director of the British Election Study, has posted a thread on Twitter this morning with evidence that makes the Survation Hartlepool poll (see 9am) very plausible. It starts here.
Using British Election Study figures, Green says 84% of people who voted for the Brexit party in the European elections in 2019 voted for the Conservatives in the general election that year. In seats where no Brexit party candidate was standing at the general election, 91% of the Brexit party vote at the European election went to the Tories.Using British Election Study figures, Green says 84% of people who voted for the Brexit party in the European elections in 2019 voted for the Conservatives in the general election that year. In seats where no Brexit party candidate was standing at the general election, 91% of the Brexit party vote at the European election went to the Tories.
Here is more from Sir Keir Starmer’s interview on the Today programme. As well as arguing that turning around Labour was always going to take more than a year (see 9am), he also described how he saw the main differences between Labour and the Conservatives.Here is more from Sir Keir Starmer’s interview on the Today programme. As well as arguing that turning around Labour was always going to take more than a year (see 9am), he also described how he saw the main differences between Labour and the Conservatives.
Starmer rejected claims that under Boris Johnson the Conservative party has become more similar to Labour. When Mishal Husain, the presenter, put it to Starmer that Johnson’s policies on issues like climate change and public services showed the party had changed, Starmer replied:Starmer rejected claims that under Boris Johnson the Conservative party has become more similar to Labour. When Mishal Husain, the presenter, put it to Starmer that Johnson’s policies on issues like climate change and public services showed the party had changed, Starmer replied:
Husain then cited policies like the proposed corporation tax increase, levelling up, infrastructure spending and moving civil servants out of London as evidence that the Conservatives had changed. Starmer replied:Husain then cited policies like the proposed corporation tax increase, levelling up, infrastructure spending and moving civil servants out of London as evidence that the Conservatives had changed. Starmer replied:
(Quite how deep, sincere or long-lasting the Tory shift under Johnson will turn out to be is a fascinating question, but it was perhaps surprising that Starmer did not acknowledge that there has at least been some change. Johnson’s Conservatism is not the same as David Cameron. Paul Goodman, the ConserativeHome editor, posted an interesting article on this topic on his website at the weekend._(Quite how deep, sincere or long-lasting the Tory shift under Johnson will turn out to be is a fascinating question, but it was perhaps surprising that Starmer did not acknowledge that there has at least been some change. Johnson’s Conservatism is not the same as David Cameron. Paul Goodman, the ConserativeHome editor, posted an interesting article on this topic on his website at the weekend._
Starmer claimed he wanted to be like Joe Biden in making vast, transformational changes. When asked if Biden, and the big plans he was putting to Congress, were “the model” for Labour, Starmer replied:Starmer claimed he wanted to be like Joe Biden in making vast, transformational changes. When asked if Biden, and the big plans he was putting to Congress, were “the model” for Labour, Starmer replied:
But Starmer refused to be drawn on how much borrowing he would sanction to pay for a transformational agenda. Husain said Biden had two plans each worth $2 trillion. She said she thought Starmer stood for fiscal responsibility. In response, Starmer said the current economic model was not working.But Starmer refused to be drawn on how much borrowing he would sanction to pay for a transformational agenda. Husain said Biden had two plans each worth $2 trillion. She said she thought Starmer stood for fiscal responsibility. In response, Starmer said the current economic model was not working.
Starmer said Labour would have a fully-costed manifesto at the next election. Asked if he would spend “whatever it takes to transform the economy”, he replied:Starmer said Labour would have a fully-costed manifesto at the next election. Asked if he would spend “whatever it takes to transform the economy”, he replied:
Here are some more tables from the Survation poll in Hartlepool. The data tables are here (pdf).Here are some more tables from the Survation poll in Hartlepool. The data tables are here (pdf).
Polling is never 100% reliable as a guide to the outcome of elections, byelection polling is even more difficult and this poll is based on a sample of just 517 residents. The 17-point lead it is giving the Conservatives does look, superficially, unrealistic. But, as Damian Lyons Lowe from Survation explains in his analysis, Hartlepool is a seat that would probably have flipped to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, along with other so-called “red wall” Labour heartlands seats mostly in the north, had it not been for the fact that the Brexit party got more than 25% of the vote in the town in the general election - its third best result in the UK - partly because its leader, Richard Tice, was standing there. Lyons Lowe says:Polling is never 100% reliable as a guide to the outcome of elections, byelection polling is even more difficult and this poll is based on a sample of just 517 residents. The 17-point lead it is giving the Conservatives does look, superficially, unrealistic. But, as Damian Lyons Lowe from Survation explains in his analysis, Hartlepool is a seat that would probably have flipped to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, along with other so-called “red wall” Labour heartlands seats mostly in the north, had it not been for the fact that the Brexit party got more than 25% of the vote in the town in the general election - its third best result in the UK - partly because its leader, Richard Tice, was standing there. Lyons Lowe says:
Good morning. There are now less than 48 hours to go until polling opens for “Super Thursday”, a bumper day of elections in which every adult in Britain will get the chance to vote for either the Scottish parliament, the Welsh Senedd, city or metro mayors, councils (the local elections combine this year’s and last year’s, which were cancelled because of coronavirus), the London assembly, police and crime commissioners - or a new MP in Hartlepool.Good morning. There are now less than 48 hours to go until polling opens for “Super Thursday”, a bumper day of elections in which every adult in Britain will get the chance to vote for either the Scottish parliament, the Welsh Senedd, city or metro mayors, councils (the local elections combine this year’s and last year’s, which were cancelled because of coronavirus), the London assembly, police and crime commissioners - or a new MP in Hartlepool.
Political parties will perform better in some of these elections than in others, but attention is likely to focus overall on Scotland, and on whether Labour is making any sort of comeback under Sir Keir Starmer, and in relation to the second question, the result in Hartlepool will be crucial. It will also be the only major result available on Friday morning (most of the counting is on Friday and Saturday), which means it will frame the narrative going into the weekend.Political parties will perform better in some of these elections than in others, but attention is likely to focus overall on Scotland, and on whether Labour is making any sort of comeback under Sir Keir Starmer, and in relation to the second question, the result in Hartlepool will be crucial. It will also be the only major result available on Friday morning (most of the counting is on Friday and Saturday), which means it will frame the narrative going into the weekend.
And this morning a poll suggests the Conservatives are on course for a historic win. Governing parties very rarely gain seats in byelection, but a Survation poll suggests the Tories have a 17-point lead in the seat that has always been Labour since it was created in its current form in 1974.And this morning a poll suggests the Conservatives are on course for a historic win. Governing parties very rarely gain seats in byelection, but a Survation poll suggests the Tories have a 17-point lead in the seat that has always been Labour since it was created in its current form in 1974.
Starmer has been giving interviews this morning, and he has been downplaying expectations. This is what he told the Today programme.Starmer has been giving interviews this morning, and he has been downplaying expectations. This is what he told the Today programme.
I will post more from his interviews, and from the Survation poll, shortly.I will post more from his interviews, and from the Survation poll, shortly.
There is not much in the diary today because parliament is in recess, and the government is in purdah mode ahead of the elections. Here are the items on the agenda.There is not much in the diary today because parliament is in recess, and the government is in purdah mode ahead of the elections. Here are the items on the agenda.
9.30am: The ONS publishes reports on coronavirus infections in school, on Covid and older workers and on compliance with self-isolation.9.30am: The ONS publishes reports on coronavirus infections in school, on Covid and older workers and on compliance with self-isolation.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.
Also, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, is hosting a meeting of G7 foreign ministers at Lancaster House.Also, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, is hosting a meeting of G7 foreign ministers at Lancaster House.
Politics Live has often been wholly or largely focused on Covid this year, but this week I expect to be concentrating mostly on the elections. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.Politics Live has often been wholly or largely focused on Covid this year, but this week I expect to be concentrating mostly on the elections. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.